Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Clifford Childers, July 20, 1988

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Childers, could you tell me your whole name?

Segment Synopsis: Clifford Childers is introduced. He talks about both of his parents and their respective family backgrounds. He talks about some of his ancestors who came to America from Ireland.

Keywords: Ancestors; Ancestry; Auxier (Ky.); Birth date; Birthplace; Coal companies; Family names; Farmers; Fathers; Ireland; Mothers; Richardson, Lawrence County (Ky.)

Subjects: Families.; Family--history; Genealogy--Appalachian Region

GPS: Richardson (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.943783, -82.642445
00:04:49 - Memories of Auxier, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: What are your earliest memories of Auxier?

Segment Synopsis: Childers says he was born in Auxier, Kentucky and describes the mining town. He talks about the quality of the company doctors and the medical care they provided.

Keywords: Chores; Coal camps; Coal mining; Coal stoves; Company doctors; Company houses; Farming; Houses; Housing; Outhouses; Playing; Quality of healthcare; Recreation; Siblings; Sickness; Water pumps

Subjects: Auxier (Ky.); Company towns; Medical care--Kentucky

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:10:05 - Coal mining and farming

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Partial Transcript: Did people like the mix of being miners some of the time and working on farm things some of the time?

Segment Synopsis: Childers says many people farmed while also working in the mines. He talks about women's activities including chores and recreation. He talks about whether women worked for wages outside of the home.

Keywords: Canning; Coal mining; Farming; Gardening; Jobs; Nurses; Occupations; Raising food; Soap-making; Teachers; Women

Subjects: Auxier (Ky.); Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Auxier; Traditional farming--Kentucky; Women--Appalachian Region; Women--Employment.

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:12:55 - Church

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Partial Transcript: When you picture, uh, going to church--I guess you went to that Methodist church?

Segment Synopsis: Childers talks about the roles of men and women in church. He says the only church in town was a Methodist church and that Baptists had to go to a church outside of Auxier.

Keywords: "Saved"; Baptist churches; Baptists; Boring; Coal companies; Congregation; Dull; Gender roles; Methodist churches; Methodists; North East Coal Company; Northeast Coal Company; Pressure; Religious conversion; Work

Subjects: Religion; Rural churches; Women--Appalachian Region

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:16:25 - Company store, company town

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Partial Transcript: Okay, could you trade at any place you wanted to?

Segment Synopsis: Childers says that the only option for trading was at the company store. He talks about people attempting to save money to quit working in the mines.

Keywords: "Scrip"; Brothers; Coal camps; Death; Economic competition; Fathers; Independent stores; Leaving; Moving; Prices; Savings; Trading

Subjects: Auxier (Ky.); Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Company stores; Company towns

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:19:00 - Dangers of working in the mines

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Partial Transcript: Now how did your dad, uh, die?

Segment Synopsis: Childers talks about his father who died of black lung, or miner's asthma as they called it at the time. He talks about safety measures in the mines run by North East Coal Company. He talks about accidents that occurred, and whether miners feared working in the mines.

Keywords: "Miners' asthma"; Black lung; Danger; Death; Fathers; Fears; Health issues; Injuries; Mothers; North East Coal Company; Northeast Coal Company; Preachers; Scared; Sermons; Superstitions; Wives

Subjects: Coal mine accidents; Coal miners' spouses; Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Auxier; Coal mines and mining--Safety measures; Mine safety

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:24:36 - Leisure time / drinking

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Partial Transcript: Um, what did the, uh, men do in their leisure time? When they weren't, uh, farming and weren't mining?

Segment Synopsis: Childers talks about how the men spent their leisure time. He talks about the prevalence of drinking among different groups in town, including women and younger miners.

Keywords: Church; Drinking; Drunk; Food; Hunting; Leisure activities; Outdoor recreation; Singing schools; Sports; Women

Subjects: Alcohol; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Auxier (Ky.); Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Recreation

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:28:39 - Other coal towns

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Partial Transcript: Uh, would you say Auxier was just a real respectable town and, uh--

Segment Synopsis: Childers compares conditions in Auxier to other mining towns, and says that Auxier had fewer immigrant miners than other places. He talks about the difficulty of travel, and talks briefly about funerals.

Keywords: Black wreaths; Changes; Commuting; Consolidated Coal Company; Funerals; Himlerville (Ky.); Jenkins (Ky.); Polish; Reputations; Trains; Travel; Van Lear (Ky.); Whitehouse (Ky.)

Subjects: Company towns; Families.; Immigrants--Kentucky; Transportation--Kentucky

GPS: Whitehouse (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.873611, -82.698889
00:35:14 - Relationship between mine officials and miners

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Partial Transcript: Um, did the coal company official's families live better than workers' families?

Segment Synopsis: Childers talks about how the mine officials' families treated the workers' families. He talks about whether workers had opportunities to become foremen.

Keywords: Attitudes; Management; Mine foreman schools; Mine officials; Promotions; Snobbiness; Socioeconomic classes; Training

Subjects: Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Auxier; Education; Social classes--Kentucky--Auxier

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:37:48 - Treatment of workers by the North East Coal Company / community leaders

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Partial Transcript: Did you, uh, hear of anybody that got hurt in the mines and the company made everybody leave? Evicted the whole family.

Segment Synopsis: Childers talks about the living conditions in the camp that was run by the North East Coal Company, and says the families had to use river water and water pumps through the 1940s. He talks about community leaders outside of the company officials.

Keywords: Community leadership; Company officials; Conflicts; Decision-making; Eviction; North East Coal Company; Northeast Coal Company; Respect; River water; Sickness; Threats; Water pumps; Water quality

Subjects: Auxier (Ky.); Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Company towns; Medical care--Kentucky; Rural health services

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:41:48 - Work in the mines and effects of the union

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what jobs did you have in the mines?

Segment Synopsis: Childers talks about the jobs he held in the mines and when he retired. He talks about being a member of the United Mine Workers, and is emphatic about how the union improved working conditions for the miners. He describes various strikes that occurred over the years, including one in 1922 during his father's days as a miner.

Keywords: "Scabs" (strikebreakers); Benefits; Churches; Coal loading; Communication; Communism; Contracts; Cutting machines; Fathers; Hand loading coal; Improvements; Job positions; Jobs; John L. Lewis; Long waller; North East Coal Company; Northeast Coal Company; Powerful; Quality of life; Retirement; Standard of living; UMW District 19; UMW District 30; Violence; Wives; Working conditions

Subjects: Auxier (Ky.); Coal miners' spouses; Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Coal miners--Labor unions--Kentucky; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Auxier; Coal mines and mining--Safety measures; Lewis, John L. (John Llewellyn), 1880-1969.; Mine safety; Strikes and lockouts--Coal mining; United Mine Workers of America

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944
00:53:38 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Um, let me look through my questions here.

Segment Synopsis: Childers briefly discusses various subjects including UMW presidents, the difficulty of keeping houses clean in the coal camps, and the reason the miners went on strike in Auxier in 1922. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Scabs" (strikebreakers); Arnold Miller; Cleaning; Coal dust; Coal trucks; Houses; John L. Lewis; Mothers; North East Coal Company; Northeast Coal Company; Richard Trumka; Speeding; Tipples; Union leaders; Union presidents; Wages; Women; Working conditions

Subjects: Coal miners--Kentucky--Auxier; Coal miners--Labor unions--Kentucky; Coal mines and mining--Kentucky--Auxier; Company towns; Lewis, John L. (John Llewellyn), 1880-1969.; Strikes and lockouts--Coal mining; United Mine Workers of America

GPS: Auxier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.744722, -82.766944